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Minneapolis passes city budget, but without controversial 4th Precinct plan

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Minneapolis passed its City budget late on Wednesday night, but without a controversial amendment to upgrade the 4th Precinct police station that has been the venue for the Jamar Clark protests.

In a press release, Mayor Betsy Hodges praised the Budget approved by the City Council, saying it will "transform Minneapolis into a leading and equitable 21st Century city."

The final proposal includes some $750,000 of spending cuts, which according to the City helped limit the increase in the property tax levy to 3.4 percent.

Not included however, was a contentious, late amendment to the budget that would have seen $605,000 spent on improving the "safety and accessibility" of the the 4th Precinct station in north Minneapolis, which was blockaded by protesters against police brutality in the wake of the killing of Jamar Clark by police.

The proposal from Council Member Blong Yang was made public just a few hours before the council’s budget meeting began and was light on details of what the Precinct's upgrade would entail, with the Star Tribune reporting some argued the money would be used to "fortify" the building.

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A significant number of people turned up to the meeting to have their say on it, including some of those involved in the protest, and the majority of them spoke out in opposition. As a result, the amendment was pulled from consideration.

"It is valuable that people came out tonight and made their voices heard," Hodges commented afterwards. "The actions that were taken here tonight, and were not taken here tonight, reflect that we value that we hear from the community."

So what's included in the Budget?

Here are some of the other initiatives included in the City's 2016 Budget:

  • $1 million for police officer body cameras.
  • $13 million for affordable housing that's focused on "housing as a strategy to ensure a healthy start for kids."
  • $10 million as the City's contribution to the 10th Avenue bridge rehabilitation.
  •  $330,000 for the BUILD Leaders mentoring program, seeing men of color aged 18-24 employed to mentor boys of color.
  • Money for two new sworn police officers for downtown Minneapolis, as well as two more crime analysts and forensic scientists.
  • $200,000 extra to reduce lines and voter confusion during the Presidential elections.
  • $50,000 to get more communities and residents involved in Zero Waste programs.
  • Funding for several initiatives design to reduce the inequality and employment gap among people of color and bring "economic justice" to poverty stricken neighborhoods.
  • $85,000 to reduce red tape and make it easier for businesses to invest in Minneapolis.

Money for police training

Another late budget amendment was revealed on Wednesday (and this one did pass) will see an extra $305,000 spent on the training of Minneapolis police officers next year.

All officers on the force would go through a three-day training course in "procedural justice" – which means the way police and other legal authorities interact with the public.

In addition, all officers would go through crisis intervention training over the next two years, rather than three years.

The training is part of the city’s involvement in a three-year pilot project called the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, which has a goal of improving police-community relations and increasing trust between minority communities and the criminal justice system. It focuses on three areas.

  • Implicit bias – the automatic assumptions people make about others based on common stereotypes. In policing, this sees undeserved suspicion placed on certain groups of people.
  • Procedural justice – is based on treating people with dignity and respect, giving citizens ‘voice’ during encounters, being neutral in decision making, and conveying trustworthy motives.
  • Reconciliation – where police and the community come to see that they misunderstand each other in fundamental ways, and agree to work together to focus on common goals.

Minneapolis was chosen earlier this year as one of six cities to participate in the initiative, according to MPR News, and is receiving $4.75 million from the Department of Justice to help pay for it.

The City will also use $200,000 in expected salary savings in the Police Department next year, and $105,000 cut from the street light LED conversion proposal, to meet its $305,000 cost.

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